Host: Ben Bailey
Series Premiere: December, 2005
Network: Discovery Channel
Airs: Daily at various times
Top Prize: No limit
Cash Cab is a mobile game show that features random, unsuspecting contestants who happen upon the Cab by pure chance. The Cash Cab itself is a New York City taxi cab driven by the game's host, comedian Ben Bailey. When passengers get into the cab, they tell Bailey their destination. At this point, Bailey signals that the passengers have entered the Cash Cab by setting off lights on the ceiling and playing the theme music.
Once the initial shock and excitement wears off a little, passengers are told the rules of the game and given the option to stay and play, or get out and find another taxi. The rules of the game are simple. The game lasts as long as the cab ride to the destination stated by the contestant(s). Bailey asks a series of trivia questions as he drives the cab, with the first four questions worth $25, the next four worth $50, and all remaining questions worth $100. If contestants enter the cab as a group, they play as such and split their winnings.
If a contestant gets three questions incorrect, the ride is over. Bailey hilariously and unceremoniously drops passengers off wherever they happen to be en route to their destination if this occurs.
Bailey takes no detours or alternate routes to his destination unless directed to do so by a police officer or traffic signs. As the game progresses, contestants and viewers keep track of remaining time by counting down the city blocks left in the trip.
The Red Light Challenge:
If a contestant has earned at least $200 and Bailey has to stop for a red light, a Red Light Challenge begins. A trivia question with a correct answer made up of multiple parts is asked, and the contestant has 30 seconds to provide all of the answers. This challenge is worth $250 for all of the correct answers, and does not count against the contestant if answered incorrectly.
Like other game shows, Cash Cab has a couple of "helps" offered to contestants in the form of Shout Outs. The Mobile Shout Out allows a contestant to use a cell phone to call a friend and ask for the answer to the trivia question. With the Street Shout Out, Bailey pulls the cab over and the contestant can ask a stranger for help. Each Shout Out may only be used once during the course of the game.
Video Bonus Question:
If the passengers have reached their destination with money in their pot, Bailey offers them the chance for double or nothing with the Video Bonus Question. The videos play on screens mounted behind the driver's and front passenger's seats, and are made up of clips from Discovery Channel's extensive library archive. An accompanying trivia question is asked, and if passengers answer correctly they finish the game with double what they earned during the ride. An incorrect answer wipes out their balance and they leave empty-handed.
Passengers can opt to skip the Video Bonus Question and just take their earnings instead.
Cash Cab After Dark:
A special edition of Cash Cab airs occasionally, called Cash Cab After Dark. As the name implies, the game takes place after sunset, and it works the same way as the regular version. The main difference here though is that the prize amounts for the trivia questions are doubled to $50, $100, and $200.
Pros and Cons:
Cash Cab works because there's no hype, the contestants are real, and it's just plain fun. Gone are the neon lights and voiceovers, and instead viewers get contestants that are in no way prepared to be on a television game show. Ben Bailey is a solid host who injects humor into every episode.
There is some manufactured drama at times, especially when Bailey tries to fool the contestants into thinking that they've got the wrong answer, when in fact they are correct. But for the most part, Cash Cab is refreshingly different and easy to play along with at home.